Race Promotor's Guide to Running an Awesome Race...

jeff.brines
Posts
624
Joined
8/29/2010
Location
Grand Junction, CO US
8/9/2022 12:40pm
One of the cool parts about Vital is the number of racers who frequent the site. I'd wager there are tens of thousands of race starts among the community. Having completed a race this weekend where the promotor blew the "easy stuff", I thought "boy, I wonder if race promoters have any clue what we are looking for as a racer".

I put together a few of my thoughts (below) but was hoping the rest of the community would chime in with their thoughts. This is probably going to be a bit like Frank Costanza's "Airing of Grievances". Whatever. I'm actually trying to put together some easy-to-follow advice for any race promotor or would-be race promotor.

Communication: This is one of the most frustrating parts of (nearly) every race I've ever attended. Back in the pre-social-media & smart phone era, communication was more challenging. However, now everyone has some kind of connected device. There is zero excuse for not communicating with the racers. My suggestion is during online sign up the racer should be made aware of the primary communication channel. I don't care if its email, text or even instagram, just pick something and stick to it. This is where any changes, delays, etc are communicated to the race pool as a whole.

Race Number Pickup: This is usually pretty good these days, especially now that a lot of the waivers are signed online. That's really my number one suggestion - get us to sign everything ahead of time. This makes pickup go super fast.

Cost: I won't go into too much detail here. Seems most races sell out in hours (especially high level enduro races) so clearly cost isn't something we can really bitch about is it? I'd like to see most enduro races stay under $200 all in (this includes lift tickets if needed), and I'd also love to see a lot more grassroots/cheap/fun enduros/DH races come into the fray. If there are additional costs that are "mandatory" (parking, lift tickets, camping, whatever) these should be communicated during sign up!

Multi-Day vs Single-Day: Unless its an EWS (and even then) I'd rather all races, with only a few exceptions, be a single day event. Make it a huge day, but keep it to one day. Its easier on racers, easier on the promoter, and from my POV usually creates just as good of an experience.

Course Selection: If the trail isn't fun to ride, its not going to be fun to race. I could write a thesis about course selection, and this has improved vastly (it seems) the last 4-5 years. I still firmly believe it'd be really cool to see more raw, just-"built", taped wide and needs some thought type of stagse/tracks, but I know the forest service makes this all but impossible this side of private mountains.

Race Ops: Nobody likes waiting around. I know its super hard to keep hundreds of racers moving through a race over the course of a day, but the better a team can plan the happier everyone is. At the end of the day, most racers are there for an experience. If the experience sucks they aren't coming back. Standing around makes for a shitty experience.

Podium/Awards: I get that its bad etiquette to leave prior to the awards or podium. However, so many race
promotors drag their feet for seemingly hours after the race concludes, making it hard to stick around, especially when you've got a big drive ahead. Get this concluded as fast as possible!

Communication Wrap Up Email: After the race concludes and all the photos/video/results are posted, its nice when a promoter sends the racers an email and shows them where they can find whatever the hell happened during the race.

Results: Most of the races I've done are gone from existence. Literally. I can't find results if I tried. Does this matter? Not really, I suppose. Nobody really gives a shit about some race 10 years ago. But it can be fun to have a record of this somewhere. Roots And Rain is good, and I'd like every race to submit to this when its concluded. Maybe there is some other service for this?

That's all I've got!
2
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hogfly
Posts
66
Joined
2/10/2020
Location
Fayetteville, AR US
8/9/2022 2:34pm Edited Date/Time 8/9/2022 2:37pm
Podium is pretty much my biggest complaint. Have a freaking reasonable cutoff time (for enduro) that allows you to host podium at an appropriate time. If people don't turn in their chips by cutoff time, tough shit. I've seen way too many people sleep in and start the race late because they know they can take as long as they want without risking being out of the results. But that leads me into my second complaint...

For enduro, figure out how to cut down on Stage 1 wait times if at all possible. Do a call out start (like BME and EWS) where people have specific start times to start pedaling from the base and get announced when they start with a long transfer to stage 1 to allow things to progress smoothly. Or... have different categories run the stages in different orders if the venue allows for that sort of planning. Anyway, it's hard to blame people for not starting on time, when they start on time then wait for 60-90 minutes to drop into the first stage.

In addition, if you can have a decent MC that organizes some "games/contests" for racers while their waiting on podium, that's a bonus. Long-jump contest with a mini-ramp or whatever.... Also a decent MC that has a clue of what the heck is going on.

Also agree on Roots and Rain. I don't know what the process is there, but I would like to see it happen more. It's strange because I know the promoter of two of our race series. He doesn't actually submit anything to Roots and Rain, but one of the series is always on it (a regional one, the Southern Enduro Tour) and the other series is never on it (a local one, the Arkansas Enduro Series). Anyway, same promoter and timing company for both events (who say they didn't even realize that either event was on Roots and Rain), but one event shows up on it and the other doesn't.



2
thegromit
Posts
48
Joined
11/19/2015
Location
Durango, CO US
8/9/2022 5:18pm
One of the cool parts about Vital is the number of racers who frequent the site. I'd wager there are tens of thousands of race starts...
One of the cool parts about Vital is the number of racers who frequent the site. I'd wager there are tens of thousands of race starts among the community. Having completed a race this weekend where the promotor blew the "easy stuff", I thought "boy, I wonder if race promoters have any clue what we are looking for as a racer".

I put together a few of my thoughts (below) but was hoping the rest of the community would chime in with their thoughts. This is probably going to be a bit like Frank Costanza's "Airing of Grievances". Whatever. I'm actually trying to put together some easy-to-follow advice for any race promotor or would-be race promotor.

Communication: This is one of the most frustrating parts of (nearly) every race I've ever attended. Back in the pre-social-media & smart phone era, communication was more challenging. However, now everyone has some kind of connected device. There is zero excuse for not communicating with the racers. My suggestion is during online sign up the racer should be made aware of the primary communication channel. I don't care if its email, text or even instagram, just pick something and stick to it. This is where any changes, delays, etc are communicated to the race pool as a whole.

Race Number Pickup: This is usually pretty good these days, especially now that a lot of the waivers are signed online. That's really my number one suggestion - get us to sign everything ahead of time. This makes pickup go super fast.

Cost: I won't go into too much detail here. Seems most races sell out in hours (especially high level enduro races) so clearly cost isn't something we can really bitch about is it? I'd like to see most enduro races stay under $200 all in (this includes lift tickets if needed), and I'd also love to see a lot more grassroots/cheap/fun enduros/DH races come into the fray. If there are additional costs that are "mandatory" (parking, lift tickets, camping, whatever) these should be communicated during sign up!

Multi-Day vs Single-Day: Unless its an EWS (and even then) I'd rather all races, with only a few exceptions, be a single day event. Make it a huge day, but keep it to one day. Its easier on racers, easier on the promoter, and from my POV usually creates just as good of an experience.

Course Selection: If the trail isn't fun to ride, its not going to be fun to race. I could write a thesis about course selection, and this has improved vastly (it seems) the last 4-5 years. I still firmly believe it'd be really cool to see more raw, just-"built", taped wide and needs some thought type of stagse/tracks, but I know the forest service makes this all but impossible this side of private mountains.

Race Ops: Nobody likes waiting around. I know its super hard to keep hundreds of racers moving through a race over the course of a day, but the better a team can plan the happier everyone is. At the end of the day, most racers are there for an experience. If the experience sucks they aren't coming back. Standing around makes for a shitty experience.

Podium/Awards: I get that its bad etiquette to leave prior to the awards or podium. However, so many race
promotors drag their feet for seemingly hours after the race concludes, making it hard to stick around, especially when you've got a big drive ahead. Get this concluded as fast as possible!

Communication Wrap Up Email: After the race concludes and all the photos/video/results are posted, its nice when a promoter sends the racers an email and shows them where they can find whatever the hell happened during the race.

Results: Most of the races I've done are gone from existence. Literally. I can't find results if I tried. Does this matter? Not really, I suppose. Nobody really gives a shit about some race 10 years ago. But it can be fun to have a record of this somewhere. Roots And Rain is good, and I'd like every race to submit to this when its concluded. Maybe there is some other service for this?

That's all I've got!
What was the event, what discipline, where there lifts or shuttles needed?

With enduro I'd like to see people not showing up a week or 2 weeks early and practicing but this isn't practical. I've even heard of people calling the forest service and asking what permits were put in. I know this would be very difficult to keep it under wraps but WTF people quit being little b's.

Agreed with taping and riding things in. I've done some races outside of the country and they were some of the best races. The one year Aspen had the EWS (first year) they had some existing bike park trails in to some fresh cut aspens that we just rode in and it was great.

If the trail sucks it sucks don't race it just to add time and stages to the race.

I'm a fan of multi-day races and I think its lame that the EWS has basically dropped this. It would be cool to do something like moto with a day winner and overall winner but this doesn't add much in reality other than you could still race a single day and win the day and op out racing the second for an actually overall.
Scrub
Posts
197
Joined
9/3/2009
Location
Elk Grove/Truckee, CA US
8/9/2022 7:29pm Edited Date/Time 8/9/2022 9:08pm
While waiting for podiums to get started, have a raffle. There's got to be some type of "entertainment" and people want a chance to win stuff. A good MC can drag this out as the race staff is getting prepped for the podium awards.

Food-if the venue allows food trucks, get more than one to attend, AM and PM

For the spectators you can have a treasure hunt along the course, hide the scwhag when you tape the course and drop a pin of its location to check when removing course tape.
carterlindblom
Posts
11
Joined
10/24/2018
Location
Charlottesville, VA US
8/12/2022 7:38am
hogfly wrote:
Podium is pretty much my biggest complaint. Have a freaking reasonable cutoff time (for enduro) that allows you to host podium at an appropriate time. If...
Podium is pretty much my biggest complaint. Have a freaking reasonable cutoff time (for enduro) that allows you to host podium at an appropriate time. If people don't turn in their chips by cutoff time, tough shit. I've seen way too many people sleep in and start the race late because they know they can take as long as they want without risking being out of the results. But that leads me into my second complaint...

For enduro, figure out how to cut down on Stage 1 wait times if at all possible. Do a call out start (like BME and EWS) where people have specific start times to start pedaling from the base and get announced when they start with a long transfer to stage 1 to allow things to progress smoothly. Or... have different categories run the stages in different orders if the venue allows for that sort of planning. Anyway, it's hard to blame people for not starting on time, when they start on time then wait for 60-90 minutes to drop into the first stage.

In addition, if you can have a decent MC that organizes some "games/contests" for racers while their waiting on podium, that's a bonus. Long-jump contest with a mini-ramp or whatever.... Also a decent MC that has a clue of what the heck is going on.

Also agree on Roots and Rain. I don't know what the process is there, but I would like to see it happen more. It's strange because I know the promoter of two of our race series. He doesn't actually submit anything to Roots and Rain, but one of the series is always on it (a regional one, the Southern Enduro Tour) and the other series is never on it (a local one, the Arkansas Enduro Series). Anyway, same promoter and timing company for both events (who say they didn't even realize that either event was on Roots and Rain), but one event shows up on it and the other doesn't.



To get a race on roots and rain, get a pdf of the results and email them to webmaster@rootsandrain.com with some details about the race (series, location, date, etc) and Seb will add them to the site
1
8/12/2022 8:36am
Cost has killed my motivation to race at all these days. 200+ for the CNES events. Not including 3 days of lift tickets for a 2 day race and 1 day practice. EWS in Whistler was like 300, again not including lift tickets. I just don't have the motivation to go race, maybe get a top 10 in my category (or get destroyed at a bike park by fast locals), spend close to $1000 including gas and food and camping etc...
2
jeff.brines
Posts
624
Joined
8/29/2010
Location
Grand Junction, CO US
8/12/2022 8:46am
Cost has killed my motivation to race at all these days. 200+ for the CNES events. Not including 3 days of lift tickets for a 2...
Cost has killed my motivation to race at all these days. 200+ for the CNES events. Not including 3 days of lift tickets for a 2 day race and 1 day practice. EWS in Whistler was like 300, again not including lift tickets. I just don't have the motivation to go race, maybe get a top 10 in my category (or get destroyed at a bike park by fast locals), spend close to $1000 including gas and food and camping etc...
Hard to deny this. Especially when so much of the racing is done on trails you can just go...ride. Run strava if you want to see how you stack up lol

I was going through all the races I've done over the years, the best (on the gravity side) always involved a raw and/or recently cut course that you probably couldn't ride outside of the one weekend a year they held the race on it.

It was fun to have to think about how to put the puzzle together, and it was fair because even the locals couldn't really get on it ahead of time.

Yes, its a lot of work, and yes the forest service is a PITA to work with but these were situations where the juice was well worth the squeeze, even if you had riff raff results.
Primoz
Posts
2275
Joined
8/1/2009
Location
SI
8/12/2022 1:23pm Edited Date/Time 8/12/2022 1:26pm
My pet peeve (besides full face helmets being mandatory for even the most touristey enduro races) is prescribed start times at all stages. Let people ride and have an experience (as was mentioned). Different people have a different pace going up. It's stupid to go to a race with a bunch of friends, then have to start half an hour away from other members of the group. I wouldn't mind the wait at the top as much, if I could hang out with my group. Doing that alone makes it a miserable day.

All the multi-day experience events I've done have a relaxed attitude to that part and it made for great experiences, even with some waiting (even with some waiting in horrible cold and rain).

And single day events, as was mentioned. Make it a fun event for the participants, it's not a world cup.

EDIT: as far as event vs. races thing goes, make it a saturday event and have somewhere for people to sleep at, even in a tent or something. People will make a night out of the event and go for some more riding the next day without any pressure of racing.
1

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